Asteroid Photobombing


This Hubble image of a random patch of sky is part of a survey called Frontier Fields and was assembled from multiple exposures. It contains thousands of distant galaxies and the trails of asteroids moving through the field of view. The asteroid trails appear as curved or streaks. The combined image show 20 sighting of 7 different asteroids.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI

NGC 4993


On 17 August, 2017, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detected gravitational waves from a neutron star collision. Within 12 hours, observatories had identified the source of the event within the galaxy NGC 4993 and located an associated stellar flare called a kilonova. Hubble watched as the flare of light from the kilonova faded over the course of 6 days. The inset images show the decreasing brightness in observations taken on the 22nd, 26th, and 28th.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI

A Matter of Perspective


Spiral galaxies are pancake-shaped collections stars and vast clouds of gas and dust. This video illustrates how their observed shapes can differ change depending on the angle at which they are observed. This video pictures models of the spiral galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right) in three dimensions and rotates them to show how they might look if viewed from other perspectives. The models are based on observations by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, as well as on the statistical properties of galaxies. Because we see NGC 4302 nearly edge on, and its structure is not well-defined—its model is based upon observations of the spiral galaxy Messier 51.

Video Credits: NASA / ESA / STScI

A Binary Asteroid


This time-lapse video was put together from Hubble Space Telescope photos. It shows two asteroids with comet-like features orbiting each other. The asteroid pair, called 2006 VW139/288P, was observed in 2016, just before its closest approach to the Sun. The photos reveal the binary system has a tail like a comet. The apparent movement of the tail is caused by changes in the relative alignment between the Sun, Earth, and 2006 VW139/288P between observations. The tail orientation is also affected by a change in the particle size. The pair was emitting relatively large particles (about 1 mm) in late July, and the tail was pointing in more or less the same direction as most of the particle emissions. However, after 20 September, 2016, the tail began to point in the opposite direction as pressure of sunlight pushed smaller (about 10 µm) dust particles away from the Sun.

Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. DePasquale and Z. Levay (STScI)

A New Moon


A moon was discovered around the dwarf planet 2007 OR10 in these archival Hubble images. They were taken a year apart and reveal a moon orbiting the dwarf planet. Each image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope‘s Wide Field Camera 3, shows the companion in a different position around the planet. 2007 OR10 is the third-largest known dwarf planet, after Pluto and Eris, and the largest unnamed body in the solar system. It’s located in the Kuiper Belt, a realm of icy debris left over from the solar system’s formation.

Image Credits: NASA / ESA / C. Kiss (Konkoly Observatory) / J. Stansberry (STScI)

The Rings of Uranus


Saturn’s rings are so prominent that they easily visible from Earth with a small telescope. All the other gas giant planets have ring as well, but they weren’t discovered until we were able to look at those planets from above the Earth’s atmosphere. Here are some pictures of the ring system around Uranus taken by the Hubble Space Telescope as our point of view shifted over several years. The next time the rings will be edge-on will be in 2049.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI